Garden Photo of the Day

Taking a closer look in Jeff’s Tennessee garden

'Helen's Blush' euphorbia, up close and personal

Today's photos are from Jeff Calton down in Tennessee (past posts HERE). Jeff sent in these photos about 10 days ago. He said, "With most of the herbaceous plants now gone until next spring we have to sometimes search for color and beauty in the garden. There is plenty out there if you look closely. The intensified color, almost perfect geometry of some of the plants, the lacework of frost on the leaves–the winter face of the garden. So…get out there, crawl around, look closely, and put on the "macro glasses." You will be surprised what you find in the garden in November." Great advice, Jeff. I found myself doing this in my garden last weekend as I took breaks from raking the I-kid-you-not 10 tons of leaves in my yard. A friend was helping me and asked me if I was mad that the Japanese maple was hanging on to its leaves for so long, and that I'd have to do the raking all over again in a couple of weeks. I looked up at the crimson leaves glowing against the sky and thought, "No, it's worth it for this." The miscanthus blooms, too, are fascinating as they open up and get puffier and fluffier. My Dutchman's pipe has dropped all its massive leaves, but the splayed open seed pods are works of pure art. OK, maybe I need to start taking some pictures….Thanks, Jeff, for the reminder to find beauty wherever you can, even if you have to shiver to do it!

SEND ME PICS OF YOUR GARDEN, OR A GARDEN YOU'VE VISITED! Email me at [email protected]. Thanks! –Michelle

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'Helen's Blush' euphorbia

Japanese maple

'Shishigashira' Japanese maple

Japanese maple, 30 years in this pot

Agave 'Blue Flame'–it will be mush when it thaws

Chamaecyparis 'Just Dandy'

Siberian cypress, Microbiota decussata

One of the heathers, I don't remember which one.

Pieris japonica 'Mountain Fire'

Sempervivum–no idea of the variety.

View Comments


  1. Nurserynotnordstroms 11/20/2014

    Jeff do you bring the Japanese maple (that's been in the pot for 30 years) into a green house for the winter? And do you root prune it?Nice fall photos,it's been icy here too but I've still managed to get my fall clean up done,well Don did the leaves I did the removal of the slimy perennials, except like Michelle our large Japanese maple is gorgeous but really holding on to its leaves.

    1. user-1020932 11/20/2014

      no, i do not bring it inside, it stays outside year round but i do sink the pot into the earth (planting of sorts ) to protect the roots. i pull it out of the pot every other year for root prouning and clip on the top as needed thruout the growing season. i really don't know what i'm doing and have no knowledge of the rules of bonsai, i trim, it lives and i'm ok with that

      1. Nurserynotnordstroms 11/21/2014

        Ha Jeff you made me chuckle"I trim,it lives I'm ok with that"my philosophy exactly

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 11/21/2014

    Hi,, Jeff, well, I don't know who Helen is but I hope she is "blushing" with pride and delight at her beautiful namesake...I love the colors that make up its variegated foliage and how perfect those deep red tones look at this time of year. Hmm, and those frosted edges suddenly made me thirsty for a frozen margarita! Your bonsai Japanese maple is just remarkable...what an impressive accomplishment to have tended to it so successfully for all these years.

    1. user-1020932 11/21/2014

      Michaele, that JM bonsai was a wedding gift from Bob Bullington, it's actually 3 seedlings braided together to give a thicker trunk faster. my story is that if the tree dies the marriage is over, it's still alive but some years it REALLY struggled!

      1. user-1020932 11/21/2014

        i forgot to mention, that Euphorbia is Helena's Blush, i must have mis typed when i sent the photos, , it's a Monrovia introduction i think

        1. User avater
          meander_michaele 11/21/2014

          Did you order the euphorbia by mail order or get it from a nusery?

          1. user-1020932 11/21/2014

            i got it from a local supplier

      2. User avater
        meander_michaele 11/21/2014

        Cute story about the supposed relationship between the tree's continued longevity and your marriage..that's safe to joke about as long as the tree stays alive. I can't see any hint in the trunk that it was once 3 seedlings. They really melded together.

  3. susan749 11/21/2014

    Beautiful photos!

  4. GrannyMay 11/21/2014

    Lovely examples of fall beauty, Jeff. I hope your bonsai maple survives for at least another 30 years!

  5. perenniallycrazy 11/21/2014

    Your garden never seems to quit Jeff. I love it all!

    1. user-1020932 11/21/2014

      thanks, Cherry! i have taken pictures of everything in the yard at least 3 times i think, soon i will be working on the cellular level

  6. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 11/21/2014

    Just beautiful, Jeff! That's so crazy how the Japanese Maple trunks have melded together. It looks awesome, in spite of you! I have a variegated ficus bonsai that I've had for 25 years. I can't seem to get it to keep a full head of leaves, so I've covered it with Tillandsia and it looks awesome: garden tip of the day.

    1. user-1020932 11/21/2014

      in spite of me is 100% correct! i don't have a clue about bonsai rules

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 11/21/2014

        Bonsai rules or not, I'd say your bonsai rules!

  7. user-5829577 11/21/2014

    Here in northern Illinois most is gone after our single digit temps so I really enjoyed your beautiful photos and especially enjoyed your explanation of the fantastic potted maple. What care it must receive, I would imagine. Loved your story that went along with it, also. Thanks for sending these in....your photography is great.

  8. NCYarden 11/21/2014

    Hi Jeff. Really digging the "winter" interest, even though it's still supposed to be Fall. Some early cold for sure. I appreciate your view of the late season garden, as there is always something going on in the garden. It's worth the closer look, and the extended strolls.
    And by now, of course you know I love the japanese maples. Really impressed with the JM bonsai. And I realize there are numerous rules to bonsai, as I maintain a few myself, but I have to say I find it more pleasing and fun to essentially break some and follow my own. It's tough enough just keeping them alive half the time. So no worries for sure. Great gift by the way. Thanks for sharing.

  9. VikkiVA 11/21/2014

    I love the bonsai Maple and the story you tell about your marriage. To have lasted 30 years the bonsai may not have required much work, however, I know you will admit marriage is always a "work in progress." Congratulations on your success with both! Vikki in VA

  10. wittyone 11/21/2014

    Oh, I love that chamaecyparis. I just googled it and got a very wide range of listings as to it's height. One said 2 feet another said mature height 10 feet??? What is your take on that?

    Maybe it's because they are relatively slow growers (one said an inch a year) and the 10 foot one takes 30 years or so to get there?

    I have another one that is such a handsome plant and an added benefit is that the deer around here seem to totally ignore it. Who could ask for more?

    1. user-1020932 11/21/2014

      i don't know if the mature size even matters because i'll never live to see it. i think an inch a year on this variety is the maximum annual growth because i have yet to see it happen. 1/2 inch and i'm thrilled. it's the slowest plant i have

  11. hostamom 11/21/2014

    Hi Jeff. You've inspired me to check out my garden and see if any photo-worthy plants are hiding back there. Thanks for sharing.

  12. sheila_schultz 11/21/2014

    I love the frost on the leaves... I can feel and hear the 'crunch'! Can't wait to see what you find peeking up through the snow down the road of winter.

  13. GrannyCC 11/21/2014

    Thanks for the touch of frost. Makes one look at the plants in a new way. Beautiful maple and lovely story behind it. May you and your Wife and Maple have 30 years more.

  14. greengenes 11/21/2014

    Simply beautiful... We all are so fortunate to really appreciate the beauty of plants and gardening! My favorite present is a load of fish compost! These pictures make me want to go take another look at winters approach in the beds. Very nice maple in Bonsi and a very interesting concept along with your marriage! So true what others have said about it! Congrats to you both! Do you bring in the agave?

    1. user-1020932 11/21/2014

      nope, i don't bring in the agave, use them as annuals

  15. schatzi 11/21/2014

    The frost on everything really accentuates the architecture - gorgeous. Helena is especially beautiful - the close up is frame worthy. You really have an eye for beauty and composition, Jeff. Great pictures. It always amazes me that Bonsais can stay alive so long in those tiny pots. I don't have the courage to try it. But they are beautiful. But my marriage is still going strong after 52 years! Keep up the good work with yours!

  16. janeeliz 11/21/2014

    Each one is a gem.Jeff...and a bit of a surprise to find such beauty this time of the year.Thanks for reminding us to LOOK and SEE in every season. .Nature ALWAYS provides us with the most amazing things.

  17. Meelianthus 11/21/2014

    Goodmorning Jeff ~ Your frosty plant pics are beautiful. Every season can be breathtaking in its' own way. Last week it was 28 degrees here, turned a lot of things to mush. Today it is 58!
    We just roll with what ever comes down from the North. I love the Siberian cypress - it looks like a whole herd of antlers!

  18. Chris_N 11/22/2014

    Love the heather with the fern behind it. We haven't had any really good frosty mornings this fall. Frozen solid mornings but not the kind where frost feathers the edge of every leaf. These are all great pictures.

  19. annek 11/22/2014

    Fabulous photos Jeff. So architectural and haunting

  20. foxglove12 11/23/2014

    Love all the frosty edges.

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